With the NHL trade deadline approaching on Feb. 27, the San Jose Sharks' trade possibilities seem to be diminishing. But GM Doug Wilson always seems to have a few tricks up his sleeve at this time of the year.
While the Sharks (31-17-6) were relatively flat-footed on the power play and penalty kill in the beginning of the season, they have rebounded nicely.
They are currently ranked fourth in the NHL in power-play percentage (21 percent)—an improvement from 10th (19 percent) back in December. In the past 10 games, they have 13 power-play goals, and have only given up four on the penalty kill—two of which came on two-man advantages.
One of the reasons why the Sharks would be interested in a last-minute trade is to fill the offensive gap that Martin Havlat left when he went down with an injury in mid-December.
But Havlat is due to come back in mid-March—two weeks after the trade deadline. Havlat scored in his last game on December 17 before the fateful fluke injury.
There is no “one player” that can bring instant penalty kill and offensive success to the Sharks—that is something that must come with sustained growth and team chemistry.
And the players that have been recently linked with the Sharks don’t seem to be worth it. Tuomo Ruutu was a viable option, but his recent injury took him off the list.
The idea of trading away young talent in the form of possibly Jamie McGinn, Benn Ferriero and Justin Braun for a veteran near the end of his career doesn’t settle well.
The trio has combined for 37 points this season, and Ferriero has played in only 26 games. The Sharks have been linked with the possibility of pursuing ex-Shark veteran Ray Whitney, who will turn 40 in May and is in his 19th season in the league. Although Whitney has been a scoring machine in Phoenix, leading the team in goals, a trade for Whitney would not pay off in the long run.
In a perfect world, the Sharks would be able to pick up Rick Nash for a small fee. But in reality the Sharks would have to give up a number of prospects and draft picks, and possibly a core player in order to make that come true. And the Sharks should not put themselves in a position of risking future success for one star player.
Or should they?
The Sharks’ continued improvement in the second half of the season proves that they have a solid core with even more potential in the form of young talent. And Havlat’s return in March will be an added bonus that will hopefully spark the team to peak when it matters most.
I would advise the Sharks organization to play it safe in the coming weeks and evaluate the talent that they have rather than breaking up team chemistry and depth for a last-minute acquisition.